Year Abroad. Part 2: The daily baguette

Today we’re going to Monaco. In fact, I’m currently sitting on the bus waiting for Veronique, the one passenger who decided she didn’t want to turn up on time. I know what you’re thinking: “you’re supposed to be studying,” and, “this year isn’t a holiday.” You’re not wrong. However, these days, popping to Monaco is just as easy as shooting down to Southend, so if anything, I’d say this was a study break. Monaco is my Southend, what even is that? Oh, and besides, it’s Andie’s birthday.

So stormy weather has replaced the sun of late (I’ll mention the weather briefly, apologies for it not being sooner, I know you’ve been waiting). Gone are the days of sunglasses and sunburn as sun cream sits neglected on the shelf. But if I’m honest, after a month the novelty has worn off and it’s actually quite annoying needing a shower as soon as you get out of the shower.

Yet this heat intolerance is just one of the many stereotypes taking over my life. To Europeans, I alternate my time between sipping tea and binge-drinking. “Are you even European anymore?” I find myself asked, somehow. Yes, I reply, we left the EU, not the continent. Despite Tory wishes, the tectonic plates aren’t quite as fickle as their politicians. Speaking for myself however, after a black coffee at breakfast and a baguette for lunch, I spend my evenings ignoring the shaking heads of my French neighbours as I pass, unhappy and in denial of the cultural stereotype that I so proudly appropriate. So I straighten my beret and walk on, leaving them to butter their croissants in peace.

Despite what we think at home, it seems that English are actually quite popular, at least with the younger generation anyway. I’ve got a couple of French mates here now, and when I’ve asked them whether it’s true that all French dislike us, they always reply strongly with no! Apparently, and this seems to be a pretty Europe-wide consensus, we’re the most fun! As if we didn’t already know. Nowhere else will you find such commitment to the sesh, or a people so willing to denounce a politician’s political credentials over his inability to eat a sandwich. However, one thing I’m not having anymore, is anyone else knocking our cuisine. From Buenos Aires to Beijing, Kingston to Kyoto, spice, colour and vibrancy dominate the kitchen. But nowhere on earth will you find our intuition, our imagination, our pursuit of the impossible. For instance, yes, lasagne is great, but add some chips and what you’ve achieved is nothing short of magic. Forgotten to go shopping this week and the cupboards are running low? No worries! You’ve got fish fingers and half a loaf of bread! You, my friend, right there, have yourself a dinner fit for a king!

We’re not all that bad us English. And I for one cannot wait to sip PG tips once more before sitting in traffic.

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